While we know that there are plenty of Black women, including actresses, that have #MeToo stories, often we don’t share our stories publicly or hear about them.
But on Thursday, Anika Noni Rose bravely decided to share her experience on SiriusXM’s Make It Plain show in an emotional sit-down with host Mark Thompson.
The Quad actress revealed that she was assaulted in the past while she was a passenger on the plane.
“I have never spoken of this, but I will say this out loud now: I was assaulted on a plane last year. And I haven’t been able to get this person’s name; they won’t give me the name of the person.”
Anika said it just happened out of nowhere and without warning. She didn’t even know this person, ET Online reported.
“I don’t know this person. He didn’t introduce himself. There was no, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ And I was asleep before the plane even took off; I’m one of those sleepers,” she explained. “That engine started and I’m like a baby in car. I’m out. He ruined it. Ruined it.”
The stranger’s assault “woke” Rose up, so she alerted the airline’s crew.
“We turned that plane around,” she said. “I was offered that option in the beginning, and I said no, because it seemed like the person was then going to go to sleep. I felt like, ‘Maybe he’s chilling.’ I told the steward and stewardess, ‘I just want you to keep an eye on this person. I just want you to know that this is happening.’ And then he said some things that were so out of the box, that I was like, ‘Let’s stop the plane.’ But at that point, the plane was…We had left late. We were starting to take off late. I didn’t know who had connections somewhere else, who was trying to get somewhere important, so I was like, ‘It’s a short flight. Just pay attention to him. Let’s just keep it moving.'”
Like many of us would have been, Anika felt violated and was livid.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do with myself. Yes, please turn the plane around.’ I was shaking. I was so upset and so hurt and angry. Like, angry,” she said.
“I wanted to punch that man, and I knew that that would take away from the story that I had to tell. I had to hold in everything that I was feeling to be able to tell this story and be heard and taken seriously from the place I was in. It’s been…interesting.”
And while the man was removed from the plane, till this day, Anika hasn’t been given her perpetrator’s name.
“There’s a Freedom of Information act. You’re supposed to be able to get people’s names. I made a report right then with the FBI and they dropped it. They dropped the case,” she said.
When asked why, she just sighed. “I really don’t know. I really don’t know. [The airilne is] not allowed to tell me the name of the passenger, apparently.”
Since the incident, she admits that she hasn’t done much about her case.
“I can honestly say that I have not done much with it. I made my report. I followed up with the police, like I was told to do. The police did nothing.”
She also reflected on how the experience has impacted her.
“I don’t really know how you deal with that. It was such a sly violence—such a sly violation,” she added, saying, “It’s a really tough thing to deal with when something happens to you, and you do everything you’re supposed to do, and somebody somewhere else decides: ‘Well, we’re not going to go forward with this. We’re not going to look into this any further.’ You’re walking around in circles asking for information that is owed you. The amount of care that is taken to protect perpetrators is vastly heavier and stronger than the amount of care that is taken to protect victims.”
Anika concluded that what happened to her could have happened to anyone.
“I say this to say, I was a woman asleep on a plane. I wasn’t dressed up. I wasn’t fancy. I actually looked like I was probably in school, and somebody felt free to touch me in that moment,” she stressed.
“You don’t have to be in Hollywood. You don’t have to be dressed up. You don’t have to be a siren. I was on a plane, in a skullcap, looking like a kid, basically, and this person felt free to touch me. It is mind-blowing.”
Yes, yes is it.
Thank you Anika for your courage.